British GP moved forward to April

Formula one schedule for 2000 season

Auto racing's governing body stunned Formula One fans in Britain today by moving the British Grand Prix forward to April instead of its traditional spot in mid July.

Auto racing's governing body stunned Formula One fans in Britain today by moving the British Grand Prix forward to April instead of its traditional spot in mid July.

Announcing the schedule of races for 2000, the International Auto Racing Federation listed the British GP for April 23 without giving a specific reason for the move.

"I agree, it was a big move, but we always have to accommodate the calendar," said Francesco Longanesi, head of external relations at FIA.

"It was for a number of reasons, I imagine, though which one was decisive I can't say. I think one of the main reasons was likely the re-instatement of the Belgian Grand Prix at the last minute and the overlapping it caused.

"Also I assume the United States Grand Prix in September required a bit of reshuffling and so it needed to be done this way."

There has also been talk in auto racing circles that a move to April might appeal to British GP organizers because it would increase the chances of a more thrilling race in wet weather. The race is set for April 23 which is also Easter weekend and that means guaranteed huge crowds because it will be during a holiday period.

The 2000 season starts with the Australian GP in Melbourne March 12 and ends with the Malaysian GP at Kuala Lumpur Oct. 22.

That means there could be another dramatic race in Kuala Lumpur. This year's Malaysian race - the first to be held there - produced one of the most controversial finishes in the history of Formula One.

Ferrari's Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher finished first and second ahead of McLaren's defending world champion Mika Hakkinen only for race officials to disqualify the leading two because of alleged violation of FIA regulations on aerodynamic deflectors.

That ruling meant that Hakkinen placed first and clinched the world title for the second year in a row with a race to spare. But Ferrari won an appeal, the original result stood meaning that Irvine goes into Sunday's final race at Japan leading Hakkinen by four points.

SCHEDULE FOR 2000 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP:

Mar 12: Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne)

Mar 26: Brazilian GP (Sao Paolo)

Apr 9: San Marino GP (Imola)

Apr 23: British GP (Silverstone)

May 7: Spanish GP (Barcelona)

May 21: European GP (Nurburgring)

Jun 4: Monaco GP (Monte Carlo)

Jun 18: Canadian GP (Montreal)

Jul 2: French GP (Magny-Cours)

Jul 16: Austrian GP (Spielberg)

Jul 30: German GP (Hockenheim)

Aug 13: Hungarian GP (Budapest)

Aug 27: Belgian GP (Spa Francorchamps)

Sep 10: Italian GP (Monza)

Sep 24: US GP (Indianapolis)

Oct 8: Japanese GP (Suzuka)

Oct 22: Malaysian GP (Kuala Kumpur)

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